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Retro toy store and family salon move from West Seattle to open shared space in Columbia City

By Andy Bunker

Read on South Seattle Beacon website | Download PDF

COLUMBIA CITY - "Out with the old, in with the new," is only half right when describing Columbia City's newest store, Retroactive Kids. A great combination of new and vintage toys and clothing make up this toy store, which opened on April 12, next door to La Medusa.

But the toy store is only half the story at Retroactive Kids. Along with all of the great kid
gadgets, there is also a children's hair salon, Westside Family Hair Salon, and an art lab.

Retroactive Kids has been in business for nearly three years. Originally located in West
Seattle, owner Beth Reyes decided to start looking for a new location when her old building went up for sale. Her long time friend and business neighbor in West Seattle, Trisha Gilmore, also needed to find a new place for her business West Seattle Kids Salon.

Reyes has lived in Columbia City for nine years, and when she found a vacant spot in her own neighborhood, she jumped at the opportunity. Since she and Gilmore were both in need of a new space, they decided to make the move together and share the new storefront at 4859 Rainier Ave. S.

"She's the artist, and I'm the bookkeeper and we split up the responsibilities like that," Reyes said.

The two met while working at a local church. Reyes took over as the church administrator when Gilmore went to study art in Rome. Upon her return home, she became an artist in residence at the church, and the two struck up a friendship. One day, during a slow staff meeting, Reyes asked Gilmore if she wanted to open a vintage clothing and toy store for kids.

"And she said yes! Who says yes to a question like that?" implored Beth, who is still shocked that what seemed to be a pipe dream is now their business. "I think the relationship has worked because we weren't best friends or family, just two moms with a passion."

This passion has landed them in one of the most rapidly expanding neighborhoods in Seattle. When they talked about why they feel they will fit in so well in their new neighborhood, Gilmore said, "We've noticed a lot of retroactive kids here in Columbia City with a unique, funky sense of style."

Now these kids have a place where they cannot only buy their "funky" clothes, but they can create their own clothes as well. The art lab located in the back of the store, is open to kids and parents every day of the week. Arts and craft supplies are available to create tons of different types of projects, and on Saturdays local artists lead classes that kids can sign up for during the week. April 14 was the opening of the Saturday local artist art project series, and they kicked it off with a beginning sewing class in which the kids made cool bags.

One of the best parts about the combined storefront is its ability to be fun for parents as well as kids. The retro toys and clothes have the ability to bridge the generation gap between children and the significant adults in their lives. It's sometimes hard for a parent to relate to hand held video games, but when a kid shows interest in a vintage copy of the board game "Clue" thoughts of their own childhood are rendered.

"It usually always triggers a memory that leads to a story, and the child is fascinated," said Reyes.

While Retroactive Kids is succeeding at connecting kids with their parents, it is still working on connecting itself with its new neighborhood. The grand opening party will take place on Saturday, April 28, from 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. The celebration will include kids crafts, a sale, door prizes, and cake.

Retroactive Kids and Westside Family Hair Salon are open daily and will be participating in the Columbia City BeatWalk. During the BeatWalk the businesses will provide a dance floor and kid oriented music.

Some of the most popular items sold by Columbia City's Retroactive Kids:
Hooter Hiders, Vintage Levis, Schylling Tin Tea Set, Hand Made Tee Shirts with vintage fabric appliqu├ęs (Trisha's design), Eeboo Games and Puzzles, French Bull Monster/Superhero Plates, Vintage Enamel Brooches for Moms, See Kai Run shoes, ZuZu Petals (a local mom's design) dresses, coats and women's wear, Play brooms and dusters, Vintage inspired barrettes.